§ Mr. Faulds
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) why only a small proportion of applications for entry visas for political prisoners from Chile and Argentina has been granted;
(2) why there has been such delay in processing applications for entry visas for political prisoners from Chile and Argentina;
(3) how many applications for entry visas have been received from political prisoners in Argentina; and how many have been granted;
(4) how many applications for entry visas have been received from political prisoners in Chile; and how many have been granted.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
It would entail a disproportionate effort and cost to distinguish, within the statistics for these refugees, those in custody as political prisoners; but since Her Majesty's Government's response, in October 1973, to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' appeal to share the burden of the Chilean refugee problem, the United Kingdom has received 4,083 applications involving 10,691 people. Of these, 982 applications involving 2,345 people, have been granted and 1,807 involving 4,996 people, have been refused. 776 applications involving 2,165 people were withdrawn or the applicants decided not to come here after consent to do so had been granted. 1,853 people are known to have arrived in the United Kingdom.
It is our policy to take a reasonable proportion of people anxious to leave Latin America and we have, since July 1975, concentrated on seeking to help those in the greatest danger. Applications in respect of 60 people identifiable as detained under sentence in Chile are being processed as quickly as possible. In July this year my predecessor, in answer to an international appeal made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on behalf of those Latin Americans in greatest danger in the Argentine, agreed to the entry of 75 272W cases for resettlement here. We have so far received 117 applications, involving 353 people, and have granted 42—117 people. Decisions have yet to be reached in 34 cases, and 41 cases are known to have gained resettlement elsewhere.
The nature of immigration control into this country is different from that in most other countries in our reliance on control before or at entry. Inquiries to establish personal acceptability necessarily take time, but they are completed as quickly as resources allow.
§ Mr. Faulds
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Senorita Ana Maria Garcia Rejas, at present in prison in Chile and who applied for an entry visa to the United Kingdom in May 1975, will be granted such a visa which will enable her release both from prison and from Chile.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
When an application was made in April 1975 for an entry clearance for Miss Garcia Rejas, to come here the person acting for her did not know whether she would be allowed to leave the country but said he would be sending further information. We have received none, and, since there can be no question of issuing entry clearances when people are unable to travel, in March of this year the application NA as formally refused. This does not prevent a further application being made, and if my hon. Friend has information that would justify reopening the case I will gladly consider it.